Everyone feels the effects of stress at one time or another. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and one can feel overwhelmed with all the tasks and responsibilities they have. From work pressures to relationships, and more, stress can crop up in many situations.
It’s actually the body’s natural way of defending itself against perceived threats and danger, and it can be a motivator to get things done. However, if stress piles up from multiple sources, it can negatively impact a person’s mental and physical health. It can even become a chronic condition if one doesn’t take the necessary steps to manage it.
There are methods or strategies to reduce or eliminate the stress that isn’t actually meaningful or has much of an impact or benefit to an individual, depending on what stressors they’re facing and other factors such as the type of stress, long, lifestyle, etc. Fortunately, there are meaningful ways one can de-stress and count on the effects lasting, and making a difference in their life.
1. Focus on the Muscles
One meaningful way to de-stress is to focus on muscle tension and strain. Having a build-up of stress can cause numerous physical effects, including muscle tension and fatigue.
Find ways to relieve muscle tension and strain, such as through exercise or progressive muscle relaxation. It helps break the cycle of stress and muscle tension, by reducing tension and general anxiety. Even the simple act of walking outside can help reduce stress levels and loosen up your muscles.
2. Coping Mechanisms
There are many coping mechanisms available to help one meaningfully de-stress. Discussing your feelings and concerns with friends and loved ones is a great way to reduce your stress levels and not feel isolated. Leaning on your support system can go a long way in making stress more manageable.
Prioritizing the tasks you have by creating a to-do list can also help reduce stress, by allowing you to focus on what you’ve accomplished throughout the day, versus what you haven’t been able to do. Being organized also allows you to focus on what’s most important, and recognize what isn’t.
Additionally, setting aside time specifically for self-care and relaxing can reduce stress. Pursue the hobbies and interests that are important to you. Meditation, massage, and breathing techniques are also ways to unwind and de-stress.
Facing stressors is normal and a part of life, thus they’re not completely avoidable. However, by utilizing coping mechanisms that work best for you, managing stress can be easier and help you feel better.
3. Put Good In, Get Good Out
One’s diet and what one consumes have a significant impact on how one can manage the stress that’s naturally occurring in life. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can significantly reduce stress levels.
Fruits and vegetables can help your immune system during times of stress. Reducing your intake of alcohol and caffeine can also help. Those substances don’t reduce or prevent stress, and they can even make it worse during times of heightened stress levels. Staying hydrated with water is the best option when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
While exercising might not seem appealing if you’re feeling the effects of stress, getting your body moving will help you feel better. Find ways to exercise that are interesting or fun to you. Not everyone will find stress relief in weight lifting or running, but there are other options such as hiking or biking that might appeal more to you.
4. A Change of Scene
With more and more people working from home, getting outdoors and in nature is even more important to stress management. By being outdoors, you’ll receive vitamin D, strengthen your immune system, and improve your body, mind, and mood.
You don’t need to go on a crazy long hike or backpack in the mountains to feel better, even a simple walk through your neighborhood or near a river or lake can help. If it’s wintertime, it can be challenging to want to go outdoors in the cold, but push yourself to do it.
When deciding to spend time outside, it’s important that you take some essentials with you, especially with various types of weather. Things like a jacket, backpack, water bottle, prescription sports sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen are items to consider when venturing outdoors.
Stress Happens, But Learning to Cope is Key
Dealing with stressors is a natural part of life, and is even valuable in certain situations. However, learning how to cope and de-stress is even more important to ensuring a healthy and happy life. Stress doesn’t have to ruin your life, so find the methods that work best for you and be patient with yourself.
Eight Tips for Managing Academic Stress